Garnet Hertz

Canada Research Chair in Design and Media Arts

Tier 2 - 2014-08-01
Renewed: 2019-08-01
Emily Carr University of Art and Design
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council


Coming to Canada From

University of California Irvine, United States

Research involves

Investigating how art and humanities can improve the design of technologies and information systems.

Research relevance

This research will lead to new perspectives on how humanities- and arts-based inquiry can improve technological design and spread academic knowledge.

Looking to Art to Improve Technology Design

Although contemporary society has many conveniences, these often come at the cost of people feeling overwhelmed by information and technology. For example, mobile phones and social networks enable us to connect with each other in new ways. But they also mean we are constantly being disrupted.

This information overload can be seen as the result of technology designers’ desire to maximize users’ productivity without taking into account how these tools impact individuals and society at large. As Canada Research Chair in Design and Media Arts, Dr. Garnet Hertz believes that the arts and humanities can be a useful tool in balancing out these issues.

Hertz and his research team aim to demonstrate that the arts and humanities have a valuable role to play in technological design. They are highlighting how standard methods of technological design—whether in consumer culture or traditional fields of science and engineering—often produce systems that lack cultural richness, emotion and human-oriented values. By overemphasizing principles like efficiency and productivity, technological design often contributes to a society that overworks, overproduces and overconsumes.

Hertz and his team will provide case studies and toolkits for technology designers to better integrate cultural richness, emotion and human-oriented values into their work. Their goal is to disrupt traditional models of technological development. If technology is to improve society, it must be designed for the complexities of what it means to be human.